Social Futures?: the Sociology of Substance and Shadow: A collection from the 2003 British Sociological Association Annual Conference: Introduction

Dave Morland, Diane Nutt, Steve Taylor, Andrea Abbas, Tony Chapman

Research output: Contribution to journalSpecial issuepeer-review


Our innovative and challenging collection of papers exemplifies in many ways the processes of transition that sociology is involved with, both as subject and object. On the one hand, much of the most interesting and provocative literature to emerge from recent sociology identifies the transitions from modernity to late modernity or post modernity as its object. Authors such as Bauman (1992) and Giddens, Beck and Lash (1994) have concentrated on the transformation of social relations that have unfolded over the course of the last few decades. On the other hand, sociology itself is subject to the same transitions that it recognises as its own particular arena of analysis. Such changes could potentially revolutionise theoretical practices within the discipline. To be sure, this challenges sociology, and sociologists to engage with the theoretical spaces created in this process.
2.2 Directing a contemporary sociological gaze toward potential social futures invariably necessitates a glance towards history. Consequently, this collection of papers constitutes what one might term the sociology of substance and shadow. When sociology turns its attention to social futures it adopts a number of varying approaches. As this collection of papers illustrate, sociology explores social futures by employing multi-directional perspectives. In switching on the academic floodlights, be they theoretical or empirical, sociology illuminates not only its substantive subject but also the shadows of that subject�s past and future. In light of the cultural turn, our intention when organising the conference was in part to re-emphasise the continuing significance of social, economic and political structures that have an enduring influence on people�s lives. Equally, our collection of papers represents an important challenge to those discourses that fail to detect the important complexities and contradictions often concealed by emergent social and cultural trends.
Original languageEnglish
Article number1
Pages (from-to)1 - 3
Number of pages3
JournalSociological Research Online
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2005
EventBritish Sociological Association Annual Conference 2003: Social Futures: Desire, Excess and Waste - University of York, York, UK United Kingdom
Duration: 11 Apr 200313 Apr 2003


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